Nation’s leading experts on campaign finance and election law present legal opinion that North Dakota Anti-Corruption Amendment “furthers First Amendment principles”
Oct. 1, 2018 (Bismarck, ND)—The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to protect and strengthen the U.S. democratic process across all levels of government, has announced its endorsement of Measure 1, the North Dakota Anti-Corruption Amendment.
Accompanying its endorsement, the Campaign Legal Center released a legal brief clarifying that Measure 1’s requirements of increased transparency surrounding the sources of money being spent to influence North Dakota elections and government is not only consistent with the Constitution, but actually furthers the principles of free speech protected by the First Amendment.
According to the brief: “By making information about political spending available to voters, disclosure helps prevent special interests from secretly funding advertising for or against political campaigns and government action...Disclosure equips voters with information about who is supporting the messages, candidates, and ballot measures in an election, enabling people to participate in the kind of public debate that is necessary for effective self-governance...The Court has recognized that ensuring the accountability of public officials and enabling self-governance are core First Amendment interests, which are furthered by robust disclosure regimes.”
In addition to affirming the constitutionality of Measure 1’s transparency requirements, the Campaign Legal Center also made clear that the measure will not place any new disclosure requirements on North Dakota voters engaging in ordinary political speech. The only increased transparency requirements will be on those who spend more than $200 to influence North Dakota elections or government. As Corey Goldstone of the Campaign Legal Center stated, “The money [an] individual pays to stay at the Bismarck Hilton is not 'funds spent to lobby,'” clarifying that there will be no new disclosure requirement for North Dakotans who spend personal money in service of contacting their legislators.
Furthermore, Campaign Legal Center’s memo highlights that the North Dakota state legislature will be given full prerogative in determining the specific implementation of the North Dakota Anti-Corruption Amendment, providing them the opportunity to ensure that ordinary political speech remains fully protected.
According to the legal brief: “Because the implementation of Section 1 would be in the hands of the North Dakota legislature, lawmakers would be able to design laws that require the proper level of disclosure without intruding into other activity. For example, the legislature would be able to craft protections in law to ensure that certain activity for which mandatory disclosure might be unwarranted—such as news media reports, messages from religious organizations to their members, and unpaid advocacy by individual citizens—would not be subject to disclosure requirements.”
More information and full text of the North Dakota Anti-Corruption Amendment can be found at www.ndintegrity.org.